Book clubs are an excellent way to practice skills and connect with other people. The NAA hosted an online book club for many years, slowly reading aphasia-related books over many months. Later, the book club moved to an online discussion group (currently on hold). Whether you listen to the audiobook, read a paper copy, or join to enjoy the discussion, we hope you will use stories or nonfiction to regain or hold onto words.
Why Book Clubs?
Many clinics host book clubs, including the Speech Language Institute of Salus University. Salus’s Read Between the Lines book club taps into a favorite activity of many of its members.
Our book club began in 2021 at the request of a graduate student that expressed an interest in leading a group and realized that several of our clients might benefit. Most of the clients were already a part of the SLI Aphasia Support Group and had formed connections with each other. The group met a need for clients who expressed that they were starting to read books again as their reading comprehension skills improved.
Aphasia can devastate readers, cutting them off from the stories they use for entertainment or relaxation. Book clubs help people with aphasia regain skills and reconnect to a favorite activity from life before aphasia.
Can Any Book Club Be Aphasia-Friendly?
The NAA says absolutely. Aphasia-friendly communication is just good communication for everyone:
- Slowing down the reading pace
- Making sure everyone has time to speak
- Repeating back what you heard the person say to make sure you understand
- Asking “yes” or “no” questions
- Using more than one form of communication (e.g., showing the question in writing and speaking it)
These are all ways to make your group aphasia-friendly.
Salus adds many things they do to ensure the group enjoys their time with the book club.
Speech language pathology graduate student clinicians facilitate meeting discussions using simple PowerPoint graphics, movie clips, and other visual aids. Members receive chapter summary worksheets the students have developed before each meeting to help members prepare for discussions. The book club members also receive links for chapter reviews from CourseHero YouTube videos. Reading supports, if clients choose, include large printed materials, audiobooks, partner assistance, and other video aids.
But their group is more than a simple book club.
Reading comprehension strategies are shared by members at the beginning of each meeting. Members discuss ideas during the meetings through verbal communication or the chat box on the remote platform. Clinicians use supportive communication techniques to assist members. Story themes are reviewed through pictorial graphics, and clinicians elicit word retrieval through vocabulary prompts to describe settings and characters. Members are sent the PowerPoint discussion slides after each meeting for further review.
In other words, book clubs can be a formal way to practice speech or an enjoyable activity to connect with other people with aphasia. Each book club is different, and there is one out there that fits your needs.
Connecting with like-minded people to share a good story can make communication practice enjoyable. Book clubs turn the solitary activity of reading into a social event. Salus reports that “during meetings, members laugh with one another, share common histories, learn new perspectives, and reinforce each other’s comments.”
Use the affiliate directory to find a speech clinic in your area, and contact them to find out if they have a book club. Additionally, we have book clubs listed on our online programming page, including one at Stroke & Aphasia Recovery (STAR) Program, Lifelines Book Club, MossRehab Aphasia Center, and Speech Recovery Pathways.
For more information about the Read Between the Lines book club at the Speech Language Institute of Salus University, look at their website or contact their program at SLInstitute@salus.edu.